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« Unified Truth: Faith and Reason | Main | What Motivated Early Non-Canonical Writers to Modify the Story of Jesus? »

October 25, 2013


Personally, I read more about the experiment and don't think it really indicates anything. The experimenters used a TV and not a live speaker. I hate it when someone is talking to me and they won't make eye contact. It gives me the sense that they have something to hide. I think tone of voice and posture are more important to when you are trying to convince someone or make a point.

"Forcing eye contact when trying to change someone’s mind may actually cause listeners to..."

Well, then we know a priori that this study must be rubbish.

Don't you dogmatic materialists know that we have free will, and therefore none of our mental states are "caused"?

I don't know if this is a cultural thing or what, but I've always held that making eye contact is critical; in other words, if I'm talking to someone who refuses to look me in the eye, then I think that makes them come off as having something to hide, which destroys their credibility...maybe I'm more counter-cultural than I realize. Interesting article...

Amy, I think you are right about looking the other person in the eyes when they are speaking to assure them you are hearing and taking them serious. But in reference to whether you should look the person in the eyes when you are the one speaking, I think you do best to learn to be attentive and read their body language.

I tend to be very energetic when talking about the subjects that I feel passionate about, and coupling that with constant eye contact - it can come off as intimidating. Some of my best conversations have been over a cup of coffee outside a cafe while we were both staring off or while taking a lap around the office block and looking ahead....I guess I feel I can get away with being a little more pointed with a coworker this way. But in the few cases I have met and spoken with someone on the street, with no personal history between us, I think eye contact is important in communicating that they are important and not just someone with whom you are passing the time.

Though, thanks for bringing this subtle aspect of communication to our attention.

If this were true, it would be utterly impossible to convince someone that you are actually looking at them while making eye contact. :)

Just another silly study. Let's face it(no pun intended), sometimes you can take the academic world way too seriously. This is just a slow trudge down the Silly Ave. The academics are no less prone to attach themselves to goofy ideas than the rest of us.

It was good for a grin and giggle though.

But on a more serious not, people who are entrenched in a position are hard to dislodge. Sometimes it is only the storms that life sends their way that will rip them out of those trenches. In extreme cases it may take many decades of severe stormy weather to do it and sometimes not even then. But keep in mind that persuasion can and does make a difference even if only to make the individual look back at those conversations and ask himself, "What was this individual trying to do and how does that relate to my situation this moment?" Such a question could well lead to an "AHA!" moment. It did with me and there may be many other MEs out there.

I guess I'm in the minority with regard to thinking there's something to this study, at least on the STR blog. I've found that I usually break eye contact when talking with people (looking past them, usually slightly to their left), and people tend to trust what I say. I know it's anecdotal evidence and isn't worth much, but it's nice that there's some correlation.

In all honesty, while the reasons actually being given are the ones that will ultimately persuade (to some degree), there are plenty of non-rational things that can help you make your case. In fact, two (pathos and ethos) of the three components of rhetoric (pathos, ethos, and logos) have nothing to do with reasoning at all. This study seems to focus in on one thing that can affect ethos (one's perceived authority to speak on a subject) and indicates that people who aren't obviously out to 'convert' you to their viewpoint seem to be more likely to be considered on the merits of their logical case (logos).

I think this is a lesson well worth heeding. your personal appeal matters just as much as, if not more than, the words that you use and the ideas that you espouse.

I can appreciate looking for new and interesting tools that might help in making a connection with someone regarding a very serious topic. But sometimes we are so enthralled with the nifty bells and whistles of the tool that we fail to realize that we can achieve the same results with a cheaper model from a dollar store. Maybe there aren't as many "oohs" and "aahs" that go with it, but it does the job just fine. The way to connect with someone is on a personal level that resonates with that individual. That is to say that we have to take the time and effort to find out just where they live at that moment and focus on that nerve in the foot when we put a stone in their shoe. The real trick is finding that raw nerve, not the specific size or shape of the stone being placed next to it.

Avoiding eye contact may work with me. After all, almost all of the major changes of mind I've had over the last 20 years have been because of things I read rather than having somebody talk at me.

The problem With this study is that it utilizes TV. People in studies traditionally do not perform well when they are in front of a live TV camera. TV personalities act natural in front of the TV are rare that's why they are very highly paid. It is a highly skilled person can read a teleprompter correctly.
In the early part of 2012 there was several studies that confirmed that the current generation even though they are very easy in the use of cell phones etc. they prefer face-to-face conversations with perspective clients or salesman.
Psychology in the 1960s-70s show that the constant staring eye contact is unnerving but it is mitigated by having a friendly look on your face such as a gentle gentle smile.
We as humans have a amazing we are able to process thousands of elements in our surroundings without consciously be aware of them. The best of the TV cameras cannot capture one fourth of what we see with our eyes. For example the best high definition TV can only detect approximately 750 shades of red whereas our eye can see over 10,000 shades of red.
Face-to-face is the best way to detect subtle changes of the person speaking or listening.

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